The Grand Canyon

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“Vast, magnificent and inarguably beautiful, the Grand Canyon is easily Arizona’s most distinguishable landmark – and a natural wonder that you simply have to see to believe. Stretching 277 miles from end to end, steep, rocky walls descend more than a mile to the canyon’s floor, where the wild Colorado River traces a swift course southwest.

In the Grand Canyon,

” Arizona has a natural wonder which is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world.” – Theodore Roosevelt

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Grand Canyon National Park encompasses canyons, river tributaries, and surrounding grounds. The Grand Canyon is situated in Arizona’s northwestern quadrant. With five million visitors making the trip to the canyon each year, Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States. In addition, the park has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. 

The Grand Canyon had a long and arduous road to becoming a national park, beginning in the 1880’s with several failed congressional bills. After making multiple visits to the area, Theodore Roosevelt declared the Grand Canyon a National Monument in 1908. The bill to grant national park status to the area was passed in 1919 and signed by then-President Woodrow Wilson.
 
There are two public areas of Grand Canyon National Park, the North and South Rims. At 7,000 feet above sea level, the Grand Canyon South Rim is the most accessible section of the national park, with numerous places where visitors can pull over to admire the views. The Grand Canyon North Rim, 1,000 feet higher than its southern sibling, isn’t as popular because it is harder to get to, especially when harsh winter weather closes access roads. By car, the trip from one rim to the other is 220 miles. However, if traveling by foot, the distance across the canyon is 21 miles via the Kaibab Trails.”

It was a shock to our systems moving from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon.

This probably wouldn’t have been the case had we visited the South Rim but we chose to visit the North Rim so we would be in closer proximity to our next few stops. As we climbed from the desert of Vegas to 8,000 feet elevation the temperatures dropped from over 100 degrees to 58 degrees.

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We also encountered our first rain of the trip since our first day in St. Louis. 

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The drive in was beautiful. The drive into the Northern entrance takes you through a forest of Ponderosa Pine and yellow Aspen trees. You have no clue you are approaching the Grand Canyon until you run into the Grand Canyon Lodge, situated right on the edge of the canyon.

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When we got out we were greeted with chilly temperatures, drizzly rain, and thick, pea soup fog. We were a bit disappointed by the limited visibility due to the fog but were determined to make the best of it and enjoy this once in a lifetime experience, nonetheless.

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“Can you see our breath?”

 

Our first stop was to the Ranger Station to walk through the visitor’s center and so the kids could pick up Junior Ranger booklets to work on while we explored the park.

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One of the requirements for earning a Junior Ranger patch at the Grand Canyon is to attend a Ranger led education program. We headed over to the lodge to sit in on one about condors.

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After the program we stepped outside where Toby and the kids caught their first sight of this awe-inspiring view. I had visited the Grand Canyon as a kid but was still blown away by the awesome site, not fully remembering how impressive the Grand Canyon is in person.

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The low laying fog prevented us from seeing the full vista, but it was still an incredible experience. We were able to walk along the rim and even step out  on a walkway that extended over the mammoth crevice.

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The walk out to the end of the walkway was heart stopping for Rusty and I. Precarious under the best of circumstances, after a day of rain the muddy walkways made the climb out to the edge feel down right treacherous.

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As Rusty creeped to the edge he just kept saying,

“Why are we here? Why are we doing this?!”

It definitely didn’t feel OSHA approved with its crumbling walkways and large gaps in the railing.

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Rusty was shocked by the complete lack of safety measures and expressed his concern with:

“Really?!! Someone could die!”

To which a passing stranger responded with a laugh, “Only if they jump.”

Seeing the risks for two impulsive boys off their ADHD medication, Toby kept an iron grip on both boys.

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The walk out was terrifying for this Momma, who is scared of heights, but the views made the risks worth it.

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WOW!

We opted not to hike, as originally planned. The muddy trails made hiking challenging and by the end of the day the boys were having a harder time controlling themselves. So we stuck close to the lodge and just walked around the rim of the canyon.

After an hour in the rain and cold everyone was chilled so we stopped in the lodge café for hot cocoas to warm us up while the kids finished their junior ranger booklets.

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We left the Grand Canyon by 6:00pm for the long drive we still had ahead of us to reach our campsite for the night just outside Bryce Canyon.

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Next Stop: Bryce Canyon National Park

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